HMP Norwich: Well-Led & Making Progress

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HMP/YOI Norwich was well led, had continued to make progress and managed many of the challenges it faced, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the Norfolk jail.

HMP/YOI Norwich is a local prison holding a complex mix of remanded and sentenced category B, C and D adult prisoners and remanded and sentenced young adults. The prison is unusual as it is split across three separate sites, each with different functions. These complexities are a challenge for management. At the last inspection in 2013, inspectors found that the prison had made good progress. This more recent inspection found that progress had been maintained and, in some areas, built upon. Despite facing similar challenges to other local prisons, including lower staffing levels, increases in violence, and the influence of new psychoactive substances, prisoners were more likely to say they felt safe at Norwich than at other similar prisons. Proactive action had been taken to increase safety and, while more needed to be done, the approach had resulted in a more stable prison.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • arrangements for supporting newly arrived prisoners had improved, particularly for the many men who arrived with substance misuse issues;
  • the prison was overcrowded but still provided a basically decent living environment and staff-prisoner relationships were good;
  • Ofsted rated the provision of learning and skills as ‘good’ and attention had been paid to enhancing the work, training and education places available;
  • work to help prisoners resettle back into the community at the end of their sentence remained reasonably good, but a shortage of social housing meant too many men were released without stable accommodation; and
  • work at the category D resettlement unit, Britannia House, was notable, with excellent use of release on temporary licence (ROTL) and most men had secured employment when discharged.

 

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • there had been four self-inflicted deaths since the last inspection in 2013 and although support for those at risk of self-harm was generally good, there were some weaknesses in case management;
  • although the range of work, training and education opportunities had improved, and most prisoners had something worthwhile to do, there were still too many men locked up during the working day (30%); and
  • although offender management work was generally up to date, levels of contact between men and their supervisors were insufficient.

 

Peter Clarke said:
“Norwich had continued the forward momentum we noted at our previous inspection in 2013; a significant factor was strong and stable leadership by the governor and his team. It might not have been coincidental that unlike many other prisons we have visited in recent months, the senior team had been at the prison for some years. The leadership team had anticipated and managed many of the challenges, focused on the recommendations we made in 2013 and ensured that staff were kept well informed about their priorities. We were told during the inspection that both the governor and his deputy were to move on. This would clearly be a significant change for Norwich, but we left optimistic about the many changes that were now well embedded and the number of plans in place or being developed which would ensure progress was maintained.”

 

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, said:

“I’m pleased the Inspector has recognised the positive approach of staff at Norwich which – despite challenges – has created a stable and progressive regime.

“Improving the care for those with mental health problems is key and the prison is already working with health care to ensure all prisoners receive the best possible care and support.

“The leadership team will continue to implement the report recommendations to make further improvements at the prison.”

 

A copy of the full report, published on 9 February, can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

HMP Norwich: Improvements but more to do

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HMP Norwich had improved in some important areas but much remained to do, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of the local Norfolk jail.

HMP Norwich is an overcrowded local prison holding a complex mix of remand and sentenced prisoners and young adults. The prison was split across three distinct sites with different functions. Most prisoners were held on the ‘reception’ site which acted as a local prison for mainly remanded and category B prisoners. The Local Discharge Unit (LDU), outside the main perimeter, held category C prisoners and some specialist functions. Britannia House, also outside the main perimeter, was a resettlement unit for category D prisoners. The last inspection in January 2012 identified some serious concerns and inspectors returned to check progress more quickly than usual.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • vulnerable prisoners had been moved from the threatening environment on A wing and most were now held in a better and calmer environment on C wing and had a better regime;
  • the number of violent incidents and the use of force had fallen;
  • the number of prisoners at risk of suicide or self-harm who were being managed on open ACCTs (assessment, care in custody and teamwork case management) had fallen;
  • the segregation unit offered a better environment;
  • the care and management of older prisoners and young adults was better than inspectors normally see;
  • prisoners had more time out of cell and there were more activity places available; and
  • there had been improvements in the quantity and quality of learning, skills and work since the last inspection, though more was required.

However, inspectors had some concerns:

  • the numbers of prisoners on open ACCTs, though reduced, was still high and care was inadequate in too many cases;
  • prisoners who were the victims of bullying felt unsupported and inspectors found some prisoners too frightened to leave their cells;
  • the prison was not sighted on the true levels of violence and bullying;
  • problems were most acute on A wing which acted as a first night and induction centre and a centre for those receiving treatment for drug and alcohol misuse;
  • many prisoners on open ACCTs were held on A wing and staffing levels were completely inadequate to manage the mixed population safely;
  • prisoner mentors were being used to conduct sensitive first night interviews with new arrivals, which was dangerous and open to abuse;
  • staff were stretched across the prison and prisoners sometimes struggled to get basic issues, such as mail, sorted out;
  • many prisoners assessed as having poor literacy and numeracy were unwilling to address this; and
  • offender management was not central to the work of the prison, though most practical resettlement services were adequate.

Nick Hardwick said:

“HMP Norwich has made progress since our last inspection. The treatment and conditions of prisoners was satisfactory and they had good practical help to prepare them for release. The treatment of older prisoners and young adults was very good. Prisoners in Britannia House had very good opportunities to obtain and keep a job on release. However, there were still too many exceptions: not enough prisoners had an activity place, too many services were inconsistent and, of most concern, A wing was not safe. The issues on A wing need to be addressed as a matter of urgency and we hope this report will help the prison to do this and to make the sustained improvements required.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive Officer of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), said:

“Norwich is a complex prison and I am pleased that this report acknowledges the progress it has made, which is to the credit of the Governor and his staff.

“As the Chief Inspector points out there is more to do – and the Governor has taken action to address these issues, particularly on A Wing.”

A copy of the report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/inspectorate-reports/hmi-prisons/prison-and-yoi/norwich